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An Intelligent Word…YOU AIN'T HIP HOP!

Here we go again. I love Hip Hop, although, not as much as I love the people that created it and continue to shape its destination. With that being said, I do have some things that I dislike about Hip Hop or more specifically the people who say they "love" it. I'm talking about the "neo-conservative" crusaders for what is "real" Hip Hop! You know the religious Hip Hop "purest" that draw a line between what they consider "real" and for lack of a single term "commercial/mainstream/jiffy-pop" or just plain ole "rap."

Some argue that "real" Hip Hop has been regulated to the "underground" by major record companies who only want to exploit, control and further ruin Hip Hop culture. Today the so-called "real" Hip Hop has become synonymous with the "underground" so whatever is not played on mainstream radio and or video has become "underground" or "the real" Hip Hop and this, in my opinion, is utter bullshit! Now I would agree that the major corporations have taken control of Hip Hop from the financial perspective (funding, distribution, deciding which songs get put into regular radio/video rotation), but to arbitrarily call and or label the "underground" "real" and the "mainstream" "fake" is quite frankly bullshit.

I mean we actually have people debating whether or not Hip Hop is a snap or a snare, a white-tee or a button-up. Then there's the "real" Hip Hop breakdown by territory i.e., is "the south" Hip Hop? Is "the west" Hip Hop? Is the "mid-west" Hip Hop? I read an article recently entitled "Did the South Kill Hip Hop?" You know, that's some straight dumb shit and one of the key reasons for the weakness in Hip Hop right now! Many so-called "underground" or "real" MC's think that as long as they don't say what 50 Cent, Lil Wayne or Jay-Z says, then they are repping the "real" Hip Hop? I've listened to a lot of Hip Hop in my life. I've made a lot of Hip Hop in my few days and I have a fairly sound history of the culture itself, and I know for a fact that it was/is all this infantile tribalism and lack of infrastructure that facilitated the financial takeover of Hip Hop by alien forces and not a fuckin snap beat!

You see I can still remember a time when Ice-T (LA) used to roll with Afrika Islam (..:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />New York). I can remember a time when Afrika Bambaataa made music and created an organization that reached out and embraced every sound and culture in the universe! I can remember when I (Trenton) was on tour with Ice Cube (Compton) and Too Short (Oakland). I can remember when Hip Hop radio and video shows used to play joints by Boogie Down Productions, The Jungle Brothers, Kid N Play, Slick Rick, Salt N Pepa, Heavy D, Queen Latifah, X-Clan, NWA, 2-Live Crew, Kid Frost, Rakim, PRT, LL, Paris, MC Hammer, Freshco and Miz, MC Lyte, Kool Moe Dee, Public Enemy, Nice and Smooth, Tribe Called Quest, The D.O.C., The Gheto Boys, JJ Fad, Tone Loc, Young MC, Shinehead, Milk D, Just Ice, Chubb Rock, RUN DMC, Sir Mix A Lot, The Fresh Prince, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, King Tee, The Hieroglyphics, and Biz Markie all on the same program! And regardless of where they were from, what beats they rocked to, or what subject matter they chose to talk about, they ALL were regarded as REAL HIP HOP!

The spectrum of my associates in Hip Hop straddle an unbroken span of mainstream and underground artists from Trenton, NJ, to California to Japan to Europe and back to the Tri-State area and the one thing I know for sure is that 50 Cent is no less Hip Hop than MF Doom! And if you're out there still yelling and screaming that the subject matter is the defining factor in determining who is "real" and who is "fake" I have some very sobering news for you, cuz frankly speaking, the large majority of so-called "underground" rappers, yes "rappers" just like many mainstream rappers, ain't saying shit either! In fact, most of these "underground" or "real" rappers are caught up in their own "fantasy mentality" and apart from talking about magical amulets, funny-colored weed, and how they'll take-out any "mainstream" or "commercial" rapper, they never say anything socially relative, thought provoking, or political either!

Now don't get it twisted; I really enjoy MC's/Rappers like MF Doom, but no more or less than I do 50 Cent. Well, actually, I am a bigger fan of 50 Cent. But just look at these two rappers for a moment, they have more in common than not. The only apparent difference is production styles. Music aside MF Doom, like 50 Cent is a marketing genius. MF Doom is doing voice over work (Sherman the Giraffe) on a cartoon series on Adult Swim (Perfect Hair Forever), and 50 Cent has landed a couple of movie roles. MF Doom has a super-hero doll on the market, and I read that he also has teamed up with Nike to create his own shoes now known as the "Nike Dunk High Premium SB MF DOOM". 50 Cent has sneakers, clothing, a book and Vitamin Water on the market. I do not believe that MF Doom would pass up the opportunity to have a book, a clothing line, or a "Formula Doom" Vitamin Water on the market. This is evident in the fact that he has a "commercial" action-figure and works with the Cartoon Network! My point is that MF Doom is just as commercial as 50 Cent no matter how we slice it, AND THAT IS NOT A BAD THING!

I guess the $400 million dollar question is "which of these two rappers (50 Cent or MF Doom) are not REAL Hip Hop and for what reasons?" It can't be because of the lyrical content and in light of the facts; it can't be because of mainstream "commercialism." So tell me why does only one of these rappers wear the title of "the real" Hip Hop and the other one labeled as the "mainstream" or commercialized" sell-out of "real" Hip Hop??? Proponents of this position have argued and continue to argue frivolous points like "it's the beats?" They say 50 Cent and others are making R&B, not Hip Hop? I have even heard it argued that a "real" Hip Hop beat, must have a snare? In the event that said track contains a dreadfully mainstream and commercializing "snap" or clap instead of a snare, they say it's not "real" Hip Hop?

Listen…Hip Hop samples everything from folk, jazz, blues, country, rock, pop, metal, be-bop, ska, reggae, calypso, movies, sirens, gun shots, world music, classical, Indian, continental African, Arabian, and all other types and sorts of music including the "underground" or "real" Hip Hop kryptonite that is R&B. Whodini's hit record "Friends" was no "Boom Bap" track and they were singing in the chorus? Was it not Hip Hop? Melle Mel's "The Message" was no "Boom Bap" track, but I ask you, was it Hip Hop? Was LL Cool J "I Need Love" a real track Hip Hop? The Main Source "Looking at the Front-door" was an R&B sample I believe. Who are these assholes who wish to put Hip Hop in a box of monotonous kicks and snares? My guess is that they are a small crew of rhythm-less "corny" mother-fuckers who have never been FRESH!

They run around in obscurity on the other side of their computer screens debating whether wearing gators is Hip Hop or not? Yes, a lot of mainstream rappers occasionally rocked a pair of gators, but so did some of the illest "underground" rappers in the business of scripting rhyme, like Freddy "Bumby Knuckles" Foxxx and believe me I have the magazine to prove it! I dare you simple "niggas" to say that Bump Knuckles is not "real" Hip Hop because he likes to put on some fly shit occasionally! You wouldn't dare! Educated rapper of UTFO wore gators and suits, Jekyll and Hyde wore gators and suits, Double Trouble in Wild Style wore full tuxedos, Dane Dane, Slick Rick, were always dressed up so what the hell are you talking about?

Some misinformed people even say that Nelly, Juvenile, Baby, Lil Wayne, etc. are not Hip Hop because of their "grillz" but it was JUST-ICE that introduced most of us to "grillz." JUST-ICE is a hip Hop icon that was so proud of his grill that he sat them atop his black leather Kangol and took a picture of them for his cover! This is my point my young "real" Hip Hoppers, Hip Hop culture is neither a "snap" nor a "snare." It's neither gators nor Chuck's, white-tee nor button-up, sweat-suits nor denim, gangster nor scholar, and no, it is neither underground nor commercial. Rather, Hip Hop encompasses all of the aforementioned expressions. In fact, Hip Hop is "an urban communication…a forum of expression…a projection of ideas…a reflection of life…a manifestation of consciousness…a poetical musing…a superficial thought…a random opinion…a dream realized…or a ray of light on a situation". It's ALL of the above and more! 28 inch spinning rims, fly-cars, fly-girls, gaudy-jewelry, suits and fly-kicks has always been a part of Hip Hop, just as African beads, African medallions, Ostrich feathers, leather pants, and raccoon tails. EXPRESS your self, BE your self, it is your duty as an artist, but when you become an imperialist tyrant who wish to force your "form" of self-expression on others as the ONLY or "REAL" way to articulate ourselves in the world, you my friend, are no different from emperor George W. Bush and the neo-cons who wish to turn the rest of the world into the west! YOU AIN'T HIP HOP!



It's NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB!